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FRIENDLY FIRE IN UG: Harambee Stars take on Uganda Cranes today

FOOTBALL By Rodgers Eshitemi | August 30th 2016
Harambee Stars team before playing with Congo, From Left backrow- Musa Mohamed, Goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch, Michael Olunga, Brian Mandela, Gonzales Saidi and Victor Wanyama. Front- Eric Johana Omondi, Eric Ouma, Francis Kahata, Ayub Timbe and David Owino during AFCON match at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi on Sunday, June 5, 2016. [PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]

National football team Harambee Stars will be hoping to continue with their winning ways when they take on local rivals Uganda Cranes in an international friendly match, at the Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Kampala today.

Both teams will be using the match as part of their preparations for next month’s 2017 AFCON qualifiers. Kenya will face Zambia away in a dead rubber encounter on September 4 as Uganda, who are on brink of qualifying, host Comoros Islands in a must win match the same day.

Stars, who beat the Cranes 2-0 in their last meeting in the group stages of the 2015 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, are coming off a three game unbeaten streak under coach Stanley Okumbi.

Kenya drew 1-1 with Tanzania and Sudan in friendlies before beating Congo 2-1 in the continental qualifier last June at the Kasarani Stadium.

With eight foreign-based players led by Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama at his disposal, Okumbi is expected to field a strong team.

On form Zesco striker Jesse Were is likely to partner Sweden-based Michael Olunga upfront as David Ochieng (New York Cosmos) and Brian Mandela (Maritzburg FC) start at the heart of defence alongside Gor Mahia sensation Eric Ouma and David Owino (Zesco).

Okumbi is also expected to hand the duo of Jonah Ayunga (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Lelan Joshua (Plymouth Argyle) their national team debuts.

The team which left for Uganda yesterday morning returns in the country tomorrow.

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Elsewhere, Uganda will host the inaugural Cecafa women Championships from September 11.

The tournament will be held in the lakeside town of Jinja. Harambee Starlets have been drawn alongside hosts Uganda, Zanzibar and Burundi in pool A.

Pool B consists of three teams including Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Burundi will play Zanzibar in the opener on Sunday 11 September as Harambee Starlets take on Uganda in their opening match the same day.

The hosts will be on a revenge mission after going down 4-0 to Starlets in their last meeting in Kisumu.

Starlets will then face Burundi on September 13 and finally take on Zanzibar in their last group match. The knock out stage of the competition is slated for Sunday 18 while the finals will go down on September 20.

Speaking during the launch, FUFA President Moses Magogo said Uganda will do their best to stage a successful event.

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